Saving the Lesser Antillean iguanas


[Here is a short article I had forgotten to re-post last summer, bit still interesting.] In “How to grow a baby dragon,” Matt Walker (BBC Earth, 7 July 2016) wrote about the Lesser Antillean iguanas, a critically-endangered species, and how Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust scientists are breeding them in an effort to guarantee its future survival:

A handful of extremely rare lizards have been bred by scientists. Eleven Lesser Antillean iguanas have hatched at facilities managed by the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, based in Jersey.

The emergence of the hatchlings is significant, as the Lesser Antillean iguana is now considered to be critically endangered in the wild. Found only on a few islands in the Caribbean, the lizard is threatened by habitat loss and illegal hunting. Invasive predators, including feral and pet cats and dogs, have also killed many. But perhaps the greatest threat is now posed by a relative of the Lesser Antillean iguana. The far more common green iguana is now spreading into the range of its rarer relative, and cross-breeding with it, threatening its future survival.

The new hatchlings will help efforts to breed and conserve the Lesser Antillean iguana, and Durrell is the only place that has successfully managed to breed this species. Their appearance is also significant as “it’s the first breeding success of a second generation in captivity,” says Matt Goetz, Durrell’s Head of Herpetology.

[Photo above from the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust.]

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